Silly Helps – (Revised) – Ideas to Help Your Child Get to School With Less “Fuss”

as seen on A Child Grows in

Lillian and her 1st grade daughter, Nora, visited Parents Helping Parents a few times when Nora was having a hard time getting to school on time. Their mornings had turned into a stream of fruitless power battles and late arrivals.

We talked about possible rewards to increase Nora’s motivation and thought through ways to help Lillian organize the morning more effectively. Even though our ideas seemed to improve some parts of the process Nora was still resistant and relatively immobile through much of the morning.

We were all sitting together finalizing a more effective strategy when I decided to break up the “seriousness” of our conversation. While immersed in a lively bout of air hockey Nora quietly said, “Silly, Mommy helps, it snaps me out of it.”

DUH!!! When parents can “snap out” of their usual frame of mind by playing a funny game, telling a silly story or joke, or transforming themselves from a stern, “in a big hurry” mommy or daddy into a beloved book, TV or movie character for even a minute or two it can help move things along.

Some parents I know have also tried “competiting” with their child – i.e. seeing who can get dressed or brush their teeth the fastest. (It makes the game a lot more fun if the child wins). Others have figured out engaging things to do during breakfast (21 questions, I spy, knock knock jokes) – or on the way to school (tag, racing to the corner, riding scooters or bikes, kicking or throwing a ball while walking).

Of course it can be exhausting to happily engage with a child in the middle of all the responsibilities that parents juggle at the beginning of the day but it is usually at least if not more tiring to wage a fight to get out the door. It is also great for any parent and child to have an enjoyable connection before starting their day.

Ultimately I agree with Nora, when mom or dad is able to lighten the mood it can make all the difference.